IAMC Weekly News Roundup - February 27th, 2017 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – February 27th, 2017

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review

Communal Harmony

‘Unite India’ mobile App for Diploma in Communal Harmony will help defeat hate-mongers (Feb 24, 2017, Milli Gazette)

Author Ram Puniani on Saturday launched a unique Diploma Course in Communal Harmony through a Mobile App ‘Unite India’ designed by All India Secular Forum member Syed Khalid.

Speaking after launching the App, Ram Puniyani said that ‘Unite India’ App would clear many misconceptions which are creating hatred within various communities in India. Stating that most of the misconceptions on the religion and history were created by vested interests for political gains, he said those completing Diploma in Communal Harmony could easily defeat such hate mongers.…

Syed Khalid, the AISF member and App Developer said that “The course is primarily divided into 11 chapters including Communal Violence, Misconceptions About Minorities, Alliances Amongst Kings, Islam In India, India’s Mixed Culture, Colonial Period, Indian Nationalism, Kashmir Issue, Global Terrorism Today and Communalism Today. The chapters are sub-divided into 68 topics with each giving clear and precise answer to one popular myth. The candidates will have to write exam after the end of each topic. Each topic is of about 200 words and the candidates need to give correct answers for at least three out of five questions to pass the test. After the completion of entire course, the candidates will be awarded a Certificate. The “Unite India” App is available for free download for Android platforms on Google Play Store @https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.raylabs.harmony&hl=en



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Ramjas Student Speaks Up: Police Refused to Protect Us From ABVP (Feb 22, 2017, The Quint)

It was a seminar organised by the English department and English Literary Society of Ramjas College, University of Delhi.… At around 11 am, a few students began gathering in the college, shouting how they are not going to let the “anti-national” Umar Khalid enter the college. This crowd soon turned into a mob, screaming slogans of “Vande Mataram”, and threatening the organisers, warning them that they will “disfigure their faces” if Umar Khalid dares to speak inside the University.…

Umar Khalid was invited to speak as part of the panel on ‘Regions in Conflict’ where he was supposed to present his paper on the tribals in Bastar. But the angry ABVP mob made sure that Umar didn’t participate in the event. The police, which was called in, owing to foresight, refused to protect the organisers or Umar Khalid, thus betraying their fundamental duty.…

It shows a deep and dangerous nexus between the State, the political groups sponsored by them and the police. The incident at Ramjas is not a small, secluded event but is a small part of the bigger picture where the same fascism and hooliganism is raising its head again. …



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Ramjas College row:Protest and clashes in Mumbai and Pune keep campuses on boil (Feb 26, 2017, Hindustan Times)

Following the Ramjas College controversy in Delhi University, members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), Bharatiya Janata Party’s student wing, protested at the Kalina campus of University of Mumbai on Saturday.…

Sources said ABVP activists burnt an effigy of Khalid on Friday morning. SFI members retaliated later that evening by putting up posters condemning Maharashtra education minister Vinod Tawde for ‘threatening’ their colleagues at a Solapur polytechnic college. This angered ABVP activists.

“We were attacked by ABVP activists, along with a few outsiders,” said SFI secretary Vlas Pable. The right-wing group, however, defended its actions. “We are firmly opposed to inviting Umar Khalid to Ramjas College,” said ABVP secretary Pradeep Gawde. Police personnel have been deployed on the campus.



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Kerala CM lambasts RSS at communal harmony rally in Mangaluru (Feb 25, 2017, Deccan Herald)

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan today said right wing organisations, including the RSS, had been trying to divide the country for the last several years. Addressing a “communal harmony rally” organised by CPI(M) here, he said it was unfortunate that such organisations were trying to disrupt peace in the country.

Vijayan said it was now imperative to protect communal harmony. He said the RSS had “adopted the organisational structure of Mussolini and the ideology of Hitler. The two dictators had terrorised the world”, he said. The RSS had absolutely no role in India’s independence struggle, but actually took sides with the British during the period, while all other parties jointly supported the fight against the British despite differences among them on several matters”, he said.

He said Nathuram Godse, who assassinated MahatmaGandhi with a revolver, himself was a weapon in the hands ofRSS. The assassination was the result of a conspiracy, he alleged. “In India, the RSS had now identified Muslims, Christians and Communists as their internal enemies and were carrying out attacks to eliminate them”, Vijayan said, adding they were instigating communal violence to destroy unity among the people.…



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Isn’t PM being anti-national by not condemning hate-killing of Hindu Indian by a foreigner? (Feb 27, 2017, Dailyo.in)

Has PM Narendra Modi issued a strong condemnation of the murder of the 32-year-old Indian engineer, Srinivas Kuchibholta, in Kansas by a white-skinned US navy veteran? No.… It is exactly this climate of hostility that has created ripples of disturbance across the world. Kuchibholta’s murder was patently not by just a “lone wolf” white nationalist, but someone who suddenly found a purpose in life and a narrative to strengthen when he saw the US government echoing ideas that better fit the likes of Klux Klux Klan, or the Nazi party in 1930s Germany.

Trump’s obnoxious and downright undemocratic statements… have, in fact, mirror images in what’s happening in India. Just like Trump humiliated a late Iraq war veteran’s parents because they happened to be Muslim, in India today a 20-year-old daughter of a Kargil war martyr is trolled on social media and is threatened with rape because she dares to speak the harsh truth.… We can expect little else from the student body affiliated with the RSS when the BJP national president Amit Shah equates his political opponents with Ajmal Kasab, the lone Pakistani terrorist caught alive after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks. This, after the exposé of BJP IT cell in Bhopal harbouring ISI spies, is not just delusional, but intentionally communal and aimed to vitiate an already toxic electoral climate in the country.

It is extremely sad that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who extols the virtues of his NRI supporters all across the world, hasn’t felt the need to issue a strong and scathing condemnation of the blatant hate crime that killed Srinivas Kuchibholta in Kansas.… Does the PM feel hesitant over calling out xenophobia at the topmost government level and its bloody, violent consequences in the United States because it would draw immediate and strong parallels to what’s happening in India? Is he waiting for his “circles of enablers” to interpret this as Hinduphobia? Does he not see this as a fundamental breach of the human rights of Indians abroad, particularly in the US?… Doesn’t that make Narendra Modi as much of an anti-national as Donald Trump himself?



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2002 Godhra riots: ‘There were 20 Muslim families in the village, one by one they all left’ (Feb 26, 2017, Indian Express)

…On January 31, following a prolonged trial, an additional district court in Kalol acquitted all the 26 accused in the case. The order said most of the eyewitnesses had turned hostile and a “compromise was struck between the accused and the victims”. While no written documents were submitted, the court accepted the oral information given “about the amount (not mentioned in the order) of compensation given to the victims by the accused”.

The accused had been booked for “rioting, attacking Muslims, burning their houses and destroying properties” and for insulting “their religion by damaging the (Haji Pir Ki) dargah”. One of the eyewitnesses who the court said had turned hostile was Sakina, who is in her early 60s. She denies this, and both she and Hasinaben, who is a few years younger, say they are still fighting the case. “Woh log 10-20 hazaar de kar samjhauta karna chahte the. Maine mana kar diya (The accused wanted us to compromise by giving us Rs 10,000-20,000. I refused),” Sakina says, adding that while she has also heard there has been a compromise, she doesn’t know of anyone accepting money to settle the case.

The dargah was one of the places attacked by rioters on the night of February 28, 2002, a day after the fire on the Sabarmati Express at Godhra railway station. Sakina and Hasinaben’s home was destroyed. While the two sisters shifted to the dargah, their brother left Paliyad with his family and their father took shelter at a relief camp, where he later died. “A mob of 500 to 1,000 men barged in. They thrashed my brother. They destroyed all the houses and robbed this dargah,” Sakina says. “Bees ke kareeb ghar the Musalmanon ke, dheere-dheere sabne gaon chhod diya (There were around 20 families of Muslims in the village, one by one they all left).”…



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Ishrat case: CBI opposes Guj DGP P P Pandeys discharge plea (Feb 28, 2017, India Today)

The CBI today opposed the application of Gujarat’s in-charge Director General of Police P P Pandey seeking discharge in the Ishrat Jahan case. In its reply before the special CBI court here, the central agency said there was evidence against Pandey which established his direct as well as indirect involvement.

The CBI also said it was still collecting evidence and recording statements, as the trial is yet to begin. The alleged encounter took place when Pandey was holding a high position in the Gujarat Police, CBI pointed out.…

Pandeys application cited his reinstatement and promotion as in-charge DGP of Gujarat as one of the grounds to discharge him.…



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Digvijay Singh’s ‘hate’ tweet leaves Muslim groups fuming (Feb 23, 2017, Times of India)

Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh has stirred a controversy by his comment on social media. The senior leader equated madrassas to schools run by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and claimed both spread ‘hatred’. Muslim groups and political parties have slammed Singh for his remarks on Twitter. Singh took to the microblogging site to write, “Is there a difference between Madarsas and Saraswati Shishu Mandir Schools run by RSS ? I don’t think so. Both spread Hatred. (sic).”

Strong reactions poured in from various Muslim organisations, including the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen(MIM). Asaduddin Owaisi, the MIM president, objected to Singh’s tweet. He asked Muslim socio-religious organisations, including the Jamiat-e-Ulama Hind, to take note of this ‘hatred’.

Senior Congress leader and State Minorities chairman Abid Rasool Khan too expressed displeasure. He said, “Madrassas provide education, clothing and food to those from the weakest of sections. This statement sent a wrong signal and must be retracted immediately.” In a terse reaction, Hafiz Peer Shabbir, Jamiat-e-Ulama Hind, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh chief, said he unequivocally condemns Singh’s statement.…



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Fake Rs 2000 notes of ‘Children Bank of India’ dispensed from SBI ATM in Delhi (Feb 23, 2017, Hindustan Times)

At a time when many people are struggling to withdraw cash, a State Bank of India ATM in South Delhi’s Sangam Vihar dispensed fake Rs 2,000 notes. The notes, which could be passed off as genuine at first glance, are replete with errors and seem to be a prank at people’s expense.

The notes, dispensed on February 6, read ‘Children Bank of India’ in place of Reserve Bank of India and ‘Guaranteed by the Children’s Government’ in place of Guaranteed by the Central Government. ‘Churan lable’ in place of the latent image and a fake ‘PK’ logo instead of the bank’s seal, are among some of the other obvious deviations on the note.

Confirming the development, a senior police officer said that the ATM first dispensed four such Rs 2,000 notes to a customer. “We sent a sub-inspector to verify the allegations. He withdrew one Rs 2,000 note and that also turned out to be fake,” the officer said, adding that the other notes in the bundle were genuine.…



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472 rape cases in Gujarat, Kutch registered 117 in 6 months, BJP responsible for Naliya sex racket (Feb 26, 2017, Counterview)

A civil society-sponsored online petition has claimed that the Naliya sex racket, rocking Gujarat for about a fortnight now, is just a “tip of the iceberg”, insisting, “For last so many years sexual crime in Gujarat is increasing day by day” and “rape has become the epidemic in Gujarat.”

Giving the examples for the alleged “rape epidemic” in Gujarat, the petition says, these include the “Patan gangrape case, Asaram sex crimes, Parul University sex crime etc.”, claiming, “In all these cases there is a common factor which is a matter of grave concern that the criminals always got the patronage of the ruling BJP.”

“They could be punished or in jails because of public protests. But there have always been attempts by the vested forces supporting each and every action of the ruling party to release a dirtiest campaign against the victims”, alleges the petition.… “In her complaint she alleged that she has been the victim of multiple gang rapes by ten males”, the petition names a BJP activist who offered her Rs 1 crore to withdraw the FIR, adding, “At least 35 women are trapped in this sex racket and 65 persons are involved.”…



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Central ‘squeeze’ on funds for Dalit scheme leaves thousands in lurch (Feb 27, 2017, Times of India)

Manoj Kumar Paswan, a Dalit student from Nawada district in Bihar, has lived a hard life, coming as he does from a poor marginal farmer family. He and his family saw a ray of hope after he got a scholarship in 2016 to get a degree in computer applications from a college in Nagpur.

One year on, he is back to square one. The promised money from the central government’s Post Matric Scholarship scheme, which was to be routed directly to his college, has not materialized. He is back in the village, repeatedly visiting the welfare office, pleading for a solution. “My seniors in college got the scholarship. But mine never came. The college said there are some issues, we are trying to sort them out. How can I continue like this? I came back home to pursue the matter with the welfare officer here,” he told TOI from Nawada.

His is not an exceptional case, as revealed by data collected by the Dalit advocacy group, National Campaign for Dalit & Human Rights (NCDHR). In response to a complaint made by them, the social justice ministry told them that they had released nearly Rs 5,000 crore in 2015-16 and 2016-17 but the states had demanded almost double of that, Rs 9,120.56 crore. “What has happened is that in the beginning, states continued to provide scholarships to Dalit students but the central govt put a squeeze. Finally, the pipeline dried up and the students were left high and dry. Colleges started demanding fees from the students or told them to quit. Thousands have been affected by this tragedy,” said Paul Diwakar of NCDHR.



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Opinions and Editorials

‘Preplanned inhuman collective violent act of terrorism’: What Modi got away with in the Godhra case – By Manoj Mitta (Feb 27, 2017, Scroll.in)

It was only after he had become chief minister of Gujarat in October 2001 that Narendra Modi contested an election for the first time in his life. Yet, Modi was apparently still such a political lightweight that his victory margin was half that of his Bharatiya Janata Party colleague who had vacated a “safe seat” for the by-election. Within a week of this unimpressive electoral debut, the Godhra tragedy occurred on February 27, 2002, setting off a chain of events that ultimately propelled him to the office of prime minister.

Following his “spot assessment of the situation” in which 59 people had been burnt alive in a train, a press release issued by the Gujarat government the same evening quoted Modi as saying that Godhra was a “preplanned inhuman collective violent act of terrorism”. The casualties were mostly kar sevaks returning in the Sabarmati Express from a controversial Ram temple campaign launched in Ayodhya by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad in defiance of a Supreme Court order.

Modi’s immediate attribution of the train burning to a terrorist conspiracy was a politically fraught move. It turned the tables on Opposition MPs who had repeatedly disrupted Parliament the previous day demanding action against the Ayodhya campaign for exacerbating communal tension in the country. The resolve he apparently displayed in dealing with Godhra, the “original sin” of the 2002 Gujarat violence, has served to build Modi’s image as a strong and decisive leader.…



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Question from Ramjas to JNU: Is ABVP a students’ organisation or a bunch of hooligans? – Editorial (Feb 22, 2017, Hindustan Times)

Just a year after ABVP activists disrupted and shut down the Jawaharlal Nehru University by alleging that some of its students have indulged in anti-national sloganeering, its members are at it again. On Wednesday, ABVP members clashed with students in the Delhi University campus over a protest march the latter were holding against the organisation for disrupting an event at the Ramjas University.…

As in the JNU case, in this case too, the ABVP activists said that they cannot “allow anti-nationals” to speak on the campus. The students have protested saying, correctly so, that this intervention goes against the basic tenets of freedom of speech. Things could not have gone out of hand at DU if the police had been cautious enough to keep them at bay.

But it seems that the police inaction only emboldened the ABVP. In the last one year, ABVP has created ruckus in at least three major campuses: JNU, Hyderabad Central University and now in DU. Such actions raise an important question: Is ABVP a students’ organisation or a bunch of thugs?



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Why we need to worry about ABVP’s ‘nationalism’ – By Gunjeet SRA (Feb 28, 2017, Dailyo.in)

…While there has been widespread backlash over the incident across the media and the university, comments under some of the videos on YouTube and Facebook have been mind-numbingly “patriotic” and pro-ABVP. Which is as shocking as it is disheartening, and points to the fact that the ABVP has managed to successfully become the footsoldiers of intolerance against any debate over patriotism. The fact that they use violence to get their message across is something that is viewed as a minor inconvenience in the face of nationalism.

Whether it is delivering a lecture on tribal rights, eating beef, talking about Muslims, Kashmir or being a minority in India, or even talking about something that might not be deemed moral – basically anything that doesn’t appeal to the majoritarian idea of India and your place in it, is going to be perceived as anti-national and if you’re a part of it, despite knowing that, you deserve what is coming to you, the ABVP seems to be saying.…

This was followed by a national beef ban, which was immediately followed by the lynching of a Muslim (whose murderer was wrapped in the national flag at his cremation). The hoisting of national flags in schools and colleges and the very recent directive on the playing of the national anthem before movie screenings – are all ideas stemming from an overzealous patriotic mindset which will continue to draw people, until its agenda of obliterating discourse and free thought is successful.



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Petty BJP ministers and opportunistic celebs forced Gurmehar to withdraw campaign against ABVP violence – Editorial (Feb 28, 2017, Hindustan Times)

Delhi University student Gurmehar Kaur may have withdrawn her campaign against the violence that the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) unleashed on the campus last week, but she has left the ground with her head held high. In fact, it would not be wrong to say that the goons of the ABVP — helped by Union ministers and a few prejudiced celebrities — hounded her out of the unfolding narrative. But fortunately they have not been able to scare others: Hundreds of students, who believe in freedom of speech and peaceful protests and dislike the Parishad’s strong arm tactics, showed that they are brave enough to come out and have their say against the violence on Tuesday.…

All those who have been trolling and threatening Ms Kaur would not have had to the guts to do so if senior members of the BJP-led government, including Union ministers, had not fanned the flames and made wrong associations between different events to vitiate the atmosphere. Union minister Jitendra Singh on Monday said the country will not allow premium on anti-India activism and outlined the a “need to draw a bottom line on it”.

…Needless to say that there is no connection between what is happening in the Valley and in DU and by conflating these two issues, Mr Singh has sent out a dangerous signal. His colleague, minister of state, home affairs, Kiren Rijiju put out another seemingly innocuous question: “Who’s polluting this young girl’s mind?” He also said that “freedom of expression is not a licence to shout anti-national slogans in campuses. Criticise the government but don’t abuse the motherland”.…



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Why does Tamil Nadu’s unelected governor have the power to select a CM? Blame the British Raj – By Shoaib Daniyal (Feb 15, 2017, Scroll.in)

Continuing the rollercoaster that Tamil politics has been for the past six months, the Supreme Court delivered another twist on Tuesday, convicting VK Sasikala in a disproportionate assets case.… One of the offices that has been constantly been in the spotlight during this episode is that of the governor. Even before Sasikala had been convicted, Tamil Nadu governor C Vidyasagar Rao had refused to administer her the oath of office, reportedly citing the imminent verdict. This was an unprecedented step given that there was little doubt that Sasikala had the support of enough legislators in the Tamil Nadu Assembly to form the government. In a parliamentary system of democracy, how could an unelected governor overrule an explicit order of support from an elected assembly?

That the court eventually held Sasikala guilty does not in any way deflect attention from the governor’s rather unusual role in this drama. If chief ministers were held to be unfit for office by unelected governors every time a legal case cropped up, many governments would have to vacate office – which is clearly not the case. Jayalalitha herself occupied the post of chief minister rather comfortably, while being an accused in this very same disproportionate assets case.

It does not help matters that the Bharatiya Janata Party is seen to not like Sasikala, preferring the more pliant O Panneerselvam instead. Given that the governor serves at the pleasure of the BJP-controlled Union government, accusations of a political element to the governor’s move are rife.…



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The disgraceful pastime of Chhattisgarh cops – By Kay Benedict (Feb 24, 2017, Free Press Journal)

In Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region, the police first brand young tribal women as Naxalite sympathisers and use this ruse to raid their homes and villages. (Women recruits in Maoist camps are not allowed to marry or become pregnant). It is when a young woman beseeches the cops that she is not a Maoist and that she is a mother, the law-enforcers demand proof. So they squeeze her breasts to verify that she is not telling a lie. Obviously, the “anti-national” slur is only a ploy to satiate their crude, carnal pleasures, inflicting deeps wounds into the psyche of the hapless women.…

A group of tribal women in a village in Bastar, recently narrated their demeaning existence to television journalist Tanushree Pandey of CNN-News 18. Huddled in a remote forested area, shamed and vulnerable, the victims recounted their horror stories (that they endured between October 2015 and January 2016) to News 18, the only channel that traversed 1500-odd km to talk to the abused women caught between a ruthless police and the Maoists.

“I was four months pregnant when I was raped. They (the security forces) did not care I was pregnant,” said a feeble voice, her face blurred by the channel. Another said, she had just delivered (eight hours before) and lactating. “They were not convinced and a cop squeezed my breasts to see if there was milk.” Another woman said “they groped me, sexually assaulted and beat me.” Yet another said “Four men blindfolded me and raped me, later they left me unconscious…” The women said the police also “loot their homes in the name of search” for Maoists. Some rued that their houses were “hijacked” by the security men and “we could not enter our own houses”.…



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Book Review

Foot Solidier of the Constitution – A Memoir

Author: Teesta Setalvad
Reviewed by: T. Navin
Available at: LeftWord Books, 2254/2A, Shadi Khampur, New Ranjit Nagar, New Delhi, Delhi 110008. www.amazon.in/
Gujarat Violence And Struggle For Justice (Feb 22, 2017, Countercurrents)

…The example of Gujarat 2002 remains a classic example where communal ideas, communal organisations, communal propaganda came together to create a mayhem of religious genocide. This was instigated by the State, which was to protect the basic values of the Constitution including Secularism.

Gujarat 2002 evokes different responses. For the perpetrators of the violence, it was a way to teach a lesson to the minorities to accept the majoritarian goondaraj, for minorities it was an experience where permanent wound was inflicted through violence and fear psychosis, for the secular elements it was a complete breakdown of the functioning of state institutions in protecting secular values and a dark phase in Indian Democracy. While the damage has been done through Gujarat violence, the task however remains that for delivering justice to victims of Gujarat violence. The book titled ‘Foot Soldier of the Constitution – A Memoir’ by Teesta Setalvad represents her struggle for justice for the victims of Gujarat 2002 violence.…

The book by Teesta is a caution call for all those who stand for Justice and secularism. Gujarat provides enough evidence of how the mainstreaming of a communal ideology can play havoc with people. It shows how a fascist ideology manipulates institutions and constitutional principles to establish its bias and discriminatory behaviour in the name of religion. The book is an essential reading for those to understand the reality of Gujarat 2002.